promoting the unwanted, redheaded stepchild that is individual liberty

Posts Tagged ‘racism’

Humanity in a heated debate

In liberty and rights, racism on April 13, 2010 at 11:01 pm

Jubentino Morales holds a flag at the March for Just and Humane Immigration Reform on Friday May 1, 2009. Photo by Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman

With the passing of the healthcare legislation, Americans can focus their attention on the much more controversial issue of immigration reform. While the healthcare debate drew ideological lines between perceived socialists and capitalists, immigration promises to create all-new divisions — divisions dependent on skin color and nationality.

My hope is for a civil, pragmatic approach to immigration reform. Instead, I fear a debate purposely fueled by emotions linked to class, race and nationality. I do not look forward to seeing more frightening outbursts like this one by Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly.

As Americans attempt to confront the presence of millions of undocumented persons, let us remember the issue at hand is a human one. We are dealing with people, not statistics. And let us consider ourselves fortunate to have been born with the “right” of American citizenship.

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The illusion of race

In racism on March 3, 2010 at 12:42 am

The notion of race is a ridiculous one.

As a person with red hair, blue eyes and pale skin, It is impossible to be categorized as anything but white. Its taken hundreds, if not thousands, of nations and tribes to create the person I am. And yet my unique blend of European, Native American and possibly Jewish ancestry is all merged into one single, definitive category — white. A color of all things.

Race has less to do with actual differences and more to do with perceived differences, such as skin color. Its definition and boundaries are not absolute. There was a time in America when Italians and Jews werent considered white by the U.S. government as they now are — evidence that race is nothing more than an arbitrarily assigned category.

But the real question is why societies insist on grouping people by race rather than nationality, region or tribe. Why, when there exists a seemingly infinitive variety of skin tones, do they prefer to reference unyielding colors?

Because race divides us. It puts millions of genetically unique individuals into broad groups and positions them against one another. Black vs. white, yellow vs. brown, logic vs. illogic.

In actuality, there is such a thing as race. But it is singular, not plural. It is the race of all persons: the human race.

VIDEO: Time Wise, author of White Like Me, discusses the newness of the concept of race and how it has been used in America to divide and conquer. 

Another day, another racist encounter

In racism on September 28, 2009 at 3:08 am

I love when people assume just because I am white with red hair and blues eyes, I must be a racist like them.

Case in point: Joplin white supremacists.

Yesterday at my place of employment, a customer asked me where I like to go out. I recommended Blackthorn Pizza and Pub “… right next to Club 502.

Is that where all the black people go? my customer asked. I would get my ass kicked if I went there.

Why exactly? I asked. 

My customer then revealed to me his forearms, proudly declaring his status as a skinhead.

A white boy like me? No way, he said. Have you ever heard of the Joplin Honkies?

Not really enjoying the company of my new skinhead friend, I quickly looked for an exit strategy.

No, I replied. You know, white people go to that club too.

And with that, I hurried off to greet my new, imaginary table.

And now, looking back on the not-so-distant encounter, I feel a little guilty.

Should I have said something more? Been more bold in making known my disapproval of his racist attitude? Though he didnt actually say anything racist, his intent was clear.

Perhaps I just feel guilty for being looked at as one of them.

The ugly side of a movement

In racism on September 28, 2009 at 1:59 am

As a student preparing for a career in journalism, I’ve been taught over and over again the importance of honesty and fairness in reporting. So for the sake of truly being “fair and balanced” I decided to Google “Tea Party movement racist” yesterday.

Sometimes the truth is more unsettling to the reporter than to the reader.

I found a number of images depicting signs with racist/ethnocentric phrases spray-painted on them. Evidently, Freedom Works and Glenn Beck have conveniently overlooked many of the events’ participants. Their reporting of The Tea Party movement and the 9-12 Project depict a sterilized version of what’s really going on at these protest — ignoring much of the racial “background noise” as Tim Wise, author of Between Barack and a Hard Place, puts it.

Now, you may be thinking: “All this racial baiting seems to be nothing more than dirty politics. It’s the age-old tactic of employing the ‘race-card’ to distract from the real issues of taxation and government spending.”

At least, that’s what I thought. Sometimes I really hate being wrong.

While many have attacked the Tea Party movement for its racial undertones, the real issue isn’t race — it’s a highbred of nationalism, ethnocentrism and racism.

Take, for example, the recent hysteria over “socialism” and “communism.” Let me first say that I do not support socialism or communism. I find them both fallacious and their view of human beings oppressive. But I do not fear socialism or communism — on the contrary, I see merit in many of their ideas.

But the constant employment of the blade and sickle and the finger pointing harkens back to the days of McCarthy and “red baiting.” Americans had a heightened sense of nationalism during and after World War II. The election of President Barack Obama seems to have brought to surface the nationalistic/ethnocentric attitudes of many Americans.

Take, for example, the “birther” movement. For sure, some of the birthers are racist individuals who don’t want a “Kenyan” in the White House. But the large majority are red-blooded Americans who don’t want their country to be taken over by a “foreigner.” They are nationalist who see America and American culture (e.i. capitalism, Christianity, etc.) as being threatened.

At first, I couldn’t imaging where all these tea partiers were during the bailout-Bush era. Now, I understand. The majority of these people didn’t see Bush as the threat that they see Barack Obama. After all, Bush was American; he was from Texas; he gave lip service to the ideals of capitalism and limited-government spending. But Barack — he’s just too different.

It’s sad to see the racist/ethnocentric/nationalistic tendencies of America boil to the surface. A movement that is seemingly empowering the people is at the same time oppressing them. My hope is that the ideas of liberty and limited government rise above the ignorance and prejudice that are clinging to them.